Hope Changes Everything

“Hope changes everything.” This is Catholic Charities of Kansas City/St. Joseph’s most recent tag line. Although I worked for them for a few months this spring (and I did enjoy working for them) I always thought the tag line was a bit trite. Hope, to me, is just hope, most of the time it seems you hope your whole life and nothing changes.
I can remember times in my life when I had very little to almost no hope. Last March, for example, I was living at Harrison House and desperately hoping that my community (Holy Family) would pull through this transition with grace and fortitude. I saw very little progress in the way of that happening. Frank had pulled out: he couldn’t move into the house with Rachael and I. We were afraid we had scared Robyn away from joining us. We suffered from a lack of communication between the two houses. Rachael and I knew that Louis would be leaving in 8 short weeks but we couldn’t find the time or energy to get up to the house to gather the bits of information we needed. We were both overwhelmed with the prospect of quitting our jobs (yet again) and plunging ourselves back into voluntary poverty. As well, we were having monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) meetings with the Planning Committee which were taxing and slow-moving. On top of it all, we were struggling with internal strife in our community surrounding a long-term guest at Harrison House. Every day I questioned Rachael and my ability to “take over” Holy Family. And it felt like such an awful, violent phrase: “to take over.”
My bit of hope in that time did not change everything. But it did change a lot. I have carried that little bit of hope inside of me throughout these months. I carried it when I had to take the cats to the pound; when we had to call the police in response to the violence of guests. I carried it as I slept alone at 908 while Rachael was in Chicago, I am carrying it now through this heat wave.
Little things make my hope grow and grow. Every time I walk into the kitchen with its beautiful coat of paint, my heart bursts with hope. As I watch and participate with Rachael in her meetings with volunteers, hope bubbles up inside me. Robyn has arrived permanently now, and having her here is having a living, breathing source of hope for me. Jane reading her statement against nuclear weapons in front of the judge; her bravery speaks so clearly of the hope she has for the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
Hope changes everything. This very phrase has a little bit of hope dangling inside of it. True, if we simply hope and do not act little will be accomplished. But hope is what gives us the power to act. In reality, hope was the very thing that allowed me to move into Holy Family. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” We must carry hope inside of ourselves our entire lives and quietly know: it really is changing everything.

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